Sentence Reduced for Gay Journalist in Uzbekistan
September 25, 2003
By Jon ben Asher, 365Gay.com Newscenter, European Bureau Chief
Tashkent, Uzbekistan—An appeals court Thursday
reduced the sentence of a gay journalist imprisoned on what human rights
groups are calling bogus charges. The court in Tashkent lowered the sentence
of Ruslan Sharipov to four years from the 5 1/2 year sentence he received at
Sharipov, a noted human rights journalist was highly critical of the Uzbek
government in reports published in the west.
Last month he was convicted of having gay sex, sex with minors and running
Sharipov has maintained his innocence, but in the middle of his trial he
abruptly pled guilty and dismissed his lawyers.
In a letter to U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan, and made public this
week, he claimed that he had been tortured into confessing and that police
forced him to write a suicide note and threatened to kill him if he fought the
A U.N. human rights envoy last year reported that Uzbekistan routinely used
torture in its prisons.
Uzbekistan is a strategic ally of the United States in the war against
terrorism and provided an operations base during the war in neighboring
Human Rights Watch, said the lesser sentence could help
Sharipov eventually be granted freedom under the country’s annual amnesties
for prisoners. Still, the organization criticized the court for not
overturning the verdict and said the case was characterized by “lack of evidence and breaches of
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